Microsoft Corp. has licensed speech-recognition technology from SpeechWorks International Inc., the two companies announced this month. Microsoft hasn’t said in what products or services it plans to use the Speechify text-to-speech technology, said Marie Ruzzo, a SpeechWorks spokeswoman. Speechify allows text-based information like e-mail, news or other dynamic content to be read to telephone callers automatically. It can also be used in speech-activated systems for conducting transactions by phone. America Online Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have each licensed the technology for use in their phone portals.

E-tailers say fraud is a solvable problem

A new study of Internet retailers, or e-tailers, released this month by The Worldwide E-Commerce Fraud Prevention Network, found that while nearly half of e-tailers surveyed say on-line fraud is a “significant problem,” the majority believe that fraud prevention steps can minimize risk. The survey, which was conducted over the week of March 5 on the Network’s Web site, found that 50 per cent of those surveyed reported on-line losses from fraud of between US$1,000 and US$10,000. Nineteen per cent said they had lost over US$100,000. Of over 1,000 members of the Network, 140 took part in the survey. The largest number of respondents thought fraud was a “somewhat significant” problem (36 per cent), while only 10 per cent found it to be the “most significant problem.” One per cent said they never worry about it at all.